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European Year of Citizens 2013 launched in Dublin Marked by First Citizens’ Dialogue of the Year

DUBLIN 10 January 2013 - The European Year of Citizens 2013 has been launched in Dublin by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D., the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore T.D.and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. The objective of the Year is to to ensure that people know their rights as EU citizens and how to exercise them to the full. The Year of Citizens will also encourage public debate about what EU citizenship means for the people of the EU.

The launch was held in Dublin City Hall where 200 people from all walks of life had registered to take part in the first Citizens’ Dialogue of the Year. The event was facilitated by broadcaster Pat Kenny. The debate centred on the current economic crisis, the rights and benefits of EU citizenship and what the EU is likely to look like in the year 2020. The Citizens’ Dialogue was organised by the European Movement in Ireland on behalf of the European Commission and the Irish Government. It’s part of series of Dialogues taking place across Europe about the future of Europe.

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) said:

"As well as acknowledging what has been achieved together in Europe, we need to focus on what the EU means for individual citizens. People should be aware of what membership of the EU means and how they can take the fullest benefit to improve their lives.

And at a time when part of Europe’s response to shared challenges is through deeper integration, it is more important than ever that the Union be transparent, and accountable, to its citizens".

The Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland) said:

"The economic crisis has seen levels of public trust suffer at national and EU levels. We need to act to restore that trust and to empower our citizens. During the next six months, the Irish Presidency is committed to prioritising those measures on the EU agenda that can help to restore financial and economic stability in Europe and create the conditions for sustainable jobs and growth – issues that are of direct concern to all our citizens".

The Citizens’ Dialogue which followed the leaders’ opening statements was an extensive engagement between the participating citizens, the Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton T.D.

In her concluding remarks, the Minister of State said:

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to engage with people on what the EU mean to us. This is the beginning of a process that will seek the views of citizens across Ireland and Europe on the kind of EU we want and our place in its future. Here we will hold a series of events across the country to talk about where we are and where we should be going. I'm very excited by the opportunity the Year of Citizens presents."